Monday, April 4, 2022

‘Tis the Season: Cats and Hairballs

 All cat owners have endured at least one episode of their cat hacking up a hairball.  It is a very unpleasant experience for their cat – and the cat parent. What exactly is a hairball? How do they develop? And are they harmful to your cat friend?


What is a cat hairball?

 A cat hairball develops as a result of regular cat grooming. As a cat grooms itself, by using its tongue, hair is caught in the papillae (rough surface of the tongue). As a result, the hair is propelled down the throat and into the stomach. From here, some of the hair is digested and makes its way safely out of the digestive tract, and is excreted. However, some hair remains in the stomach and becomes a hairball.

Are some cats more susceptible to hairballs?

 Generally, yes. Kittens and younger cats are better at controlling hairballs than older cats. Long-haired cats tend to be at more risk of developing hairballs than shorter-haired cats. Hairballs can occur all year round, but they are more common in the spring and autumn when cats are shedding or changing their fur coats.

Are hairballs harmful to your cat?

 The occasional vomiting of hairballs is normal. However, frequent and repeated vomiting is concerning and you should take your cat to your veterinarian as soon as possible. Other symptoms to watch for in your cat are lethargy and lack of appetite. It is possible that your cat may be suffering from an intestinal blockage where the hair has passed to the stomach and into the digestional tract. This is very serious and you need to contact your veterinarian immediately. 

What can you do to reduce the risk of hairballs in your cat?

Regular grooming. Getting your cat used to brushing or combing, at least once or twice a week, is one of the best things you can do to help reduce incidents of hairballs in your cat. Regular brushing helps to remove loose hair. As a result, it reduces the amount of hair that your cat ingests. One of the best cat brushes on the market is the FURminator cat brush. You can buy one online at LeCatShop.com.  See a video demonstration of the FURminator cat brush on our very own Maggie, the Tuxedo cat. 


If brushing your cat yourself is not an option, your veterinarian or a reputable groomer would be able to help you with your difficult kitty. Aim for at least once or twice a year minimum for grooming appointments.

Purchasing specialized hairball formula food approved by your veterinarian. There are several options on the market that help control and/or prevent hairballs. Consult your veterinarian to help you choose the best formula for your cat.


Administer hairball remedies. They are several types oral gel solutions that bind to the hair in the cat’s stomach to make it easier for the hair to pass through their digestive tract. Your veterinarian can prescribe one for your cat.


Lastly, keep floors clear of any objects, such as twist ties, thread, paperclips, etc. If ingested by your 

cat, the combination of a foreign object and a hairball in your cat’s stomach could be problematic.

Your cat, and you, do not have to suffer from frequent hairballs. Following the advice of your veterinarian and the suggestions listed above will help to alleviate the frequency of hairballs.


Disclaimer: The content of this Le CatBlog is based on my own personal experiences with cats, my own research, and veterinarian consultations. I am not a veterinarian and my statements should NOT replace advice from a veterinarian.  If you have concerns about your cat and hairballs, please contact your veterinarian immediately.

 References:

A Hairy Dilemma A Hairy Dilemma | Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

 How to Treat Cat Hairballs by Dr. Sara Bledsoe, DVM, CVA, CHPV Cat Hairballs: What Causes Them and How to Treat Them | PetMD

 How Do You Manage Hairballs in Cats? Published by Kara Murphy Dealingwith Your Cat's Hairball Problem | Hill's Pet (hillspet.com)





‘Tis the Season: Cats and Hairballs

 All cat owners have endured at least one episode of their cat hacking up a hairball.  It is a very unpleasant experience for their cat – an...